Atalanta were angry with the referee after a 0-0 draw with Sampdoria, as Ruslan Malinovskyi was sent off and Alex Ferrari avoided a red.
La Dea were finding it difficult to balance their extra commitments this season, as a 2-0 Serie A home defeat to Cagliari was followed by their first ever Champions League point, holding Manchester City 1-1. Josip Ilicic started his two-match ban for a reaction foul, with Duvan Zapata still not recovered, so Luis Muriel started against his former club with not 100 per cent fit Ruslan Malinovskyi. Samp were fresh off their first win under Claudio Ranieri, beating SPAL 1-0 to leave the foot of the table.
Mario Pasalic’s effort from a tight angle was deflected on to the side-netting, but Samp lost Federico Bonazzoli almost immediately to a thigh strain, making way for Gianluca Caprari.
Fabio Quagliarella’s acrobatic bicycle-kick was charged down by Jose Luis Palomino at the back post, while Rafael Toloi’s curler was off target.
There was controversy on 37 minutes when Emil Audero came rushing out of his penalty area to clear from Muriel. After a VAR check, it was decided any handball was not punishable, as Muriel kicked it straight on to his arm from point-blank range.
Malinovskyi’s free kick looped over the wall only for Audero to palm it out from under the bar, then Pierluigi Gollini rushed out to deny a Caprari chipped finish.
Atalanta wanted a straight red card when Alex Ferrari rugby-tackled Musa Barrow 20 metres from goal, pulling him down by the neck and shoulders, but the referee opted for a yellow, claiming it was not a clear scoring opportunity.
The referee did show a second yellow moments later to Malinovskyi for his foul on Ronaldo Vieira, reducing Atalanta to 10 men for the second Serie A match in a row.
Despite being a man down, La Dea continued to pour forward and create more chances, pinning Samp back into their own half.
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Sent off: Malinovskyi 74 (A)